Who should the Chargers target on waivers?
By Matt Pagels
Finishing with the third-worst record in the NFL is not exactly what you want to see happen, but at least there are a few perks that goes with it.
Not only did the San Diego Chargers select who they believed was the best defensive player in the draft in DE Joey Bosa at No. 3 overall, but the team also has the No. 3 waiver priority when a player with three or few accrued NFL seasons is released. They will have such priority until Week 4 of the regular season.
The Chargers have underrated talent on both sides of the ball. It was evident when the starters played well in the preseason. Unfortunately, the lack of depth was also quite clear.
Expect the Chargers to grab a few players who were cut over the weekend–and just because they were released doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be good players. A lot of teams have to make tough choices, but being at the top of waivers gives the Chargers a chance to add quality depth.
Let’s take a look at a few players who the Chargers should consider signing (not in any specific order):
Edge Tyrone Holmes/OLB Ryan Davis
Who would have thunk that the Jacksonville Jaguars would get to the point where they would waive talented players? All joking aside, I like the Jags, especially since I went to a few of their games since it was close to my college campus, and I hope they do well (just not against the Chargers).
Back to the point, the Jaguars released two solid pass-rushers in four-year veteran Ryan Davis (eligible for waivers) and 2016 sixth-rounder Tyrone Holmes. Davis, who was an undrafted free agent in 2012, racked up 10 sacks over the past two seasons while playing on the team’s defensive line. Meanwhile, Holmes, a small-school prospect, led the FCS with 18 sacks in 2015. Jaguars fans were surprised with that cut, saying that Holmes was one of the few players who was consistently getting pressure on the quarterback.
Tyrone Holmes sack… bih pic.twitter.com/IfKHiOSEFl
— Expect10winsBrandon (@Youngbr2002) August 23, 2016
The Chargers need help on the defensive line, but these two would be too small to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme (Davis is 6-2, 275 pounds and Holmes is 6-4, 250 pounds). But they are pass-rushers, and the Chargers need as many as they can get. The team is in sub-packages roughly 70 percent of the time, too. Both have played better in the preseason than Chargers’ Tourek Williams, so either player would be an upgrade.
CB Zack Sanchez
This is a notable cut by the Carolina Panthers. Even though the Chargers are essentially fine at corner with Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward and Brandon Flowers leading the way, it doesn’t hurt to add to the position. I mean, it is a pass-happy league, so the more corners, the better.
A 2015 fifth-round pick, Zack Sanchez was one of three corners (“The Three Amigos”) drafted by the Panthers this year in order to help replace Josh Norman’s production. Sanchez had 15 interceptions during three seasons at Oklahoma, including seven picks in 11 games in his final season with the Sooners. Many Panthers fans were shocked that he was released, but the team has a very deep roster. He was the smallest of the bunch at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, and he is considered a boom-or-bust candidate, but Sanchez has good instincts and could develop into a nice slot corner in the future. While he may have been average at best in the preseason, he could come in and compete with Craig Mager and Stevie Williams for a spot. Because let’s be honest, those two have been average, too.
RB Mack Brown
Mack Brown’s release was also a little bit of a shocker. Brown, a 2015 undrafted free agent, dominated in Washington’s preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, carrying the ball 19 times for 149 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown run. Even though it was against third- and fourth-stringers, Brown showed off shifty moves, great speed, good awareness and the ability to power through and break tackles. The Redskins could have kept him as their third back behind Matt Jones and Chris Thompson, but it looks like they went with Rob Kelley over Brown.
The Chargers lost third-year pro Branden Oliver to a torn Achilles, so Brown could be a guy to replace him. But one big game–in the fourth preseason game that is–might not be enough to warrant a pickup (he did do a decent job in the third preseason game against the Bills, ripping off a 15-yard run).
The Chargers have Kenneth Farrow on the roster. The 2016 undrafted rookie out of Houston had a good game in the team’s preseason finale against the San Francisco 49ers, racking up 63 yards and one touchdown on seven carries. Former Titans RB Bishop Sankey was waived and could be connected to offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, but the Chargers might stick with Farrow instead of finding somebody on waivers.
Other candidates: TE Jace Amaro, WR Justin Hunter
Veterans to hit the open market:
RB Ronnie Hillman
Former Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman is also available. Hillman, who is still only 24 years old, led the Broncos in rushing with 863 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015. He was expendable after the Broncos drafted Devontae Booker this year. Again, the Chargers are going with Farrow for now, but Hillman could be another guy to replace Oliver.
OG Josh Sitton
The Chargers’ offensive line is the basically the same group from last year except for a few additions, but those addictions are key to the team’s success. The Bolts added veteran center Matt Slauson. The team also drafted Max Tuerk in the third round. If the line stays healthy, this team will flourish.
Unfortunately, that’s a big if. Former first-round guard D.J. Fluker already hurt his foot a little over a week ago, but thankfully his MRI came back negative. Even right tackle Joseph Barksdale gave us all a panic attack when he was rolled up on by a teammate in Week 3’s game against the Vikings. Guard-center Spencer Pulley, who made the cut, has been a pleasant surprise, so the Chargers should feel good about that. But if the team wants to add more depth, Josh Sitton is now available on the open market. The Packers were trying to trade him originally, and it seemed quite strange. Sitton was Pro Football Focus’ fifth-best guard in 2015. Do you want to know what’s better? He hasn’t missed a start since 2011!
Sitton, 30, is going to want to start, so he will likely not come to San Diego to back up Fluker and Orlando Franklin. It would be nice to add a talent like Sitton to what is a fragile line.
Other options: DL Red Bryant, NT Terrance Knighton, LB Nate Irving